Have you ever had trauma to your body, but you did not feel pain until later?
In this episode of Heart Work with PBJ, Dr. Patrice Buckner Jackson shares how the impact of deep work manifests in your life. The cost compounds in the background.
Dr. PBJ referred to this episode about the worst day of her career.
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Hey, hey, friends, this is Dr. Patrice Buckner Jackson. But you can call me PBJ. Welcome to another episode of Heart Work with PBJ, where we are disrupting cycles of burnout and compassion fatigue for people who serve their purpose serve their people do their work from their heart and give everything and often have not a lot left for themselves. This is your place to be refilled. And we're so grateful that you join us every week, right here. Listen, before we get into the episode, if you would do me a favor, subscribe here. If you're watching on YouTube, make sure you follow. Make sure you leave a comment, let me know you're watching or you're listening, wherever you might be connect to the community. Let's do this together. Let's walk this journey together. We speak a common language we know that carrying cost. So make sure that you're connected so that we can continue to do this. All right, let's get into the episode everybody. So this week, I want to talk to you about the impact of compassion fatigue. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who shared comments, and love and support and appreciation from what I shared with you last week, about my the worst day of my career. And if you haven't had a chance to watch that, or listen to it, I will link it here in YouTube and in the show notes for the podcast, so that you can go back and catch up there and know what we're talking about. But I appreciate all the love that was poured out on me. Because of sharing that story, I do want to say to you all that I was not the only person serving and working, I just want to give due credit to everybody who was at that university and in in that community at that time. And everyone who rallied together to work through and continue to work through that chat tragedy. And I also want to acknowledge that that is not the only tragedy that are responded to or supported through or been a part of that one. All of them are ingrained in me. But I shared that one because I remember every single detail of that day. But there were other days, unfortunately, that I had to break the news to a parent, that their child was no longer alive or had to walk through a tough situation with a student. So it wasn't the only day. But I wanted to share that day, as an example for you of what we go through in education and other fields where our empathy meters are always on hand. Today, I wanted to talk to you, though, about the lasting impact of experiences like that the lasting impact of the work, or the calling where your empathy meter is often on high or above high, and that you have to give so much deep work in order to do the work well. As I was thinking about how to share this with you all. I thought about how in college, my freshman year of college. So I went to school in Charleston, South Carolina, and spent a lot of time downtown Charleston. And if you know anything about downtown Charleston, it's absolutely gorgeous, beautiful. It's full of art and music and food and like the ocean and it's just it's gorgeous. It's gorgeous. It's beautiful. And it's a wonderful place to live. So when I was a freshman, of course, we walked everywhere because you didn't need a car. Actually, if you got a parking space downtown, you wanted to keep that parking space and not move your vehicle. But freshman year, we didn't have vehicles so we just walked everywhere. And I'll never forget the day. A friend of mine and I decided that we were going to walk down to the battery from campus and we headed out of our residence hall and we're preparing to cross King Street. And I remember we had the walk sign so we were crossing the street and a car came out of nowhere. I don't know where this car came. But the car came out of nowhere and the car was getting ready to turn right as we were crossing and all I remember is finding myself laid across the hood of this car. So we had the walk sign, it was clear, we had checked everything. We started walking across the street. And the next thing I know I am laid out on the hood of this car. And I look up and I saw the driver, and he had the stern look in his eyes. And my friend, just knee jerk didn't think about it at all. Grab me off the hood of this car. This just lunged out and grabbed me off the hood of this car. And as soon as we were clear, not in front of the car anymore, the driver took off. driver took off. We're standing there to 18 year olds. First of all, let me apologize to my mom. If she's watching this. She's never heard the story before. It's okay. I'm fine. It's okay. I'm pretty sure I never told you this. But it's all right. We got through it. 18 years old, standing there stunned. I didn't feel any pain. I was okay. My friends. Are you alright? Are you? I'm okay. I don't feel any pain hurt and just what just happened? Like we didn't even know what happened? Well, we didn't call the police. We didn't do anything. I felt fine. We were like, Okay, we're going back to the residence hall. We're done with this. So we headed back to the room and just hung out there. didn't really think about it. Okay. seemed fine. The person was gone, we felt like there was nothing we could do. Now, several years later, I would handle it differently. But that's what I did. Here's the reason why I'm telling you this story. 24 years later. There are times that I struggle with pain in my back, or pain in my shoulders. And I always think back to that moment. And wonder if the impact of that car against my body is what leads me to be experiencing pain now. In the moment, I didn't feel anything in the moment, I felt fine. In the moment, it felt like, okay, the incident is over, there's nothing we could do. No big deal, let's just move on to the next thing. But now 24 years later, I often have to deal with pain in my back or pain in my shoulders. And there are a lot of things that could have come from right. So I don't know that this impact is the only reason. But I often think back to that moment laying on the hood of that car. And wondering, we probably should have called the police. There were probably cameras, I probably should have went to the ER and gotten checked out just in case, all the things that I would have done differently. Now, looking back, we also we always say Hindsight is 2020. Right? Compassion Fatigue is the same way, you often don't feel the impact in the moment, you often don't know the impact or the consequences that you will experience later. In the moment, we're just getting the job done in the moment where you're just doing what needs to be done. In the moment, we're just serving, just going from one thing to the next. And we often don't realize the impact that compassion fatigue has on us until it really manifests as compassion fatigue, we don't realize the cost of caring until we've gotten to the point where the cost is too high. So I want you to pay attention and start thinking about the impact of how you're serving and how you're showing up every day, and what it's costing you. You know, when I think back to the tragedy that I shared with you all last week, there are some things now that I think about it, that I would have done a little bit differently for myself, if I had it to do all over and let me just say this before I even go there. There's no doubt in my mind that I was called assigned and purpose to be there in that moment and to serve the way I did. You can convince me otherwise. There's no doubt in my mind. So I want you to know that this evaluation has nothing to do with me feeling like I was out of purpose. You can be in purpose and the cost of caring gets too high. You can be in purpose and experiencing the consequences of the way that you approach life and work. So this conversation has nothing to do with being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's not even connected to having in my hand something that doesn't It wasn't assigned to me, it was assigned to me. It was my assignment, it was my work, it was where I was supposed to be, and what I was supposed to be doing, no doubt in my mind, if I had to do it again, if I had to do it again, one of the things I would do is I would go to counseling for myself, I did not recognize that being surrounded by people who are navigating trauma was also impacting me. And when I say the word impact, I want you to think about that car against my body. I want when we talk about impact, I want you to physically think about the hit to your mental, to your emotional to your physical body. And that is exactly what it is. But we don't always acknowledge it for what it is. So think about the actual hit, to your mind, to your emotions, to your body, to your relationships. If I had to serve in that way, again, I would stop for a moment and go to counseling for myself. I'm regularly in counseling now. And I wouldn't do without it. I waited much too late. And when I say too late, it's not too late. It's still in good time. But I should have taken advantage of counseling much earlier in my career. I assumed because the trauma wasn't mine, that it wasn't for me to process, I neglected the fact that the trauma that I was connected to that I was serving in, that I was caring for also made an impact on me. So I would have gone to counseling for myself, while I was so busy walking students back and forth to counseling. The other thing I would have done for myself is I would have taken a few days off. And I'm here to tell you that in that time, and in that moment, if someone would have suggested that to me, and they may have our brush that off, I don't have time for that. It's too much going on. People need me What if somebody calls? What if somebody shows up? What if somebody sends an email, I have to be there. I have to be there. And I've told you all over and over and over. I learned through my rock bottom burnout, that if I don't show up, people keep going. If I take a day or if I step away, people figure it out. So I wish I would have given myself the grace to just step away for a moment. In those days and weeks and months after that tragedy. It was literally day and night. There was no rest for the weary. Even after this news cameras were gone. Even after most of the world was no longer focused on us. There was so much response to do that it wasn't just during the the work day, it was all day. And this was for months. I wish I had had the wisdom in that time to say I am taking three days off. And I won't be accessible by phone or by email. I wish I had trusted the people around me that they would have handled it. If I would have decided I needed some time. I should have separated I should have given my mind a break. I should have given my heart a break. I should have taken a Sabbath I should have taken a salah I should have stopped for a minute. And instead of stopping I just kept going. Just like when that car hit me freshman year, instead of stopping to go get checked out to make sure everything was okay. I assumed I was okay. And moved on with my life. I did the same thing in my work. Because it wasn't my tragedy. Because it wasn't my child. I assumed hours okay, I didn't own the impact on myself. And I just kept moving on and I just kept serving and I just kept going. So I would have stopped and one more thing I would have done. I would have put more boundaries up for myself. I made myself available to any and everybody all times of day I discuss with you how, in my experience parents who lose their children while they're in college. My experience is that because we are their last connection with their child, they come back to us for a while, sometimes that's an anger. Sometimes that's in frustration, sometimes it's confusion. Sometimes it's just to have a connection, sometimes it's just want to be in your space, just be connected, just be around, just be in the last place where their child breathe oxygen. And you just need to hold space for them. There's nothing to say, There's nothing specific to do, you just kind of take cues as you go. But you just hold space. But even in holding space, for those who are grieving, I should have put some boundaries up maybe some time boundaries, some access boundaries, I should have put some boundaries up for myself. So that our did I was not available 24/7 and holding left holding grief of other multiple other people with nowhere to put it. So I should have put some boundaries up, I should have gotten counseling, I should have taken some days off. And I should have put some boundaries up for myself. Those are some things I would have done. If I had to do it all over again. What am I trying to tell you about compassion, fatigue, the impact of compassion, fatigue, it doesn't have to be your trauma. It doesn't have to be your trouble. It doesn't have to be your situation. But if you're caring for someone through the situation, please know that it there's a cost to you. There's just like the car gets my body, there's an impact to you. And you must count that cost. The impact may affect areas in your life that you don't expect. There may be impact to your thinking to your mind. There may be impact to your emotions, even though it may not be your you don't feel like you should be grieving, you may also grieve the loss. Even if you did not know the people, you may also grieve the loss by being closely connected to grief, your relationships may be struggling, the cost of your personal relationships, when you're in compassion fatigue, or when your empathy meter is always on high, you may get home and feel like you have nothing left for the people who mean the most to you. Or they may want to share their struggle with you. And you may be thinking you think you got it bad. Let me tell you how my day was. These are the invisible impacts that we don't feel immediately. But they are there. So the impacts may touch you in areas that you don't expect. And the last thing I'll tell you about the impact is it compounds in the background. So just like when the car hit me, I felt fine. I felt like it was okay. No big deal. Now, 24 years later, when I want to feel pain in my back, when I feel pain in my shoulders, I can't help but think if it has something to do with that one moment of impact, you may not feel it immediately. You may not have the consequences immediately. But please know that impact and costs compounds in the background. So if you find yourself now struggling in ways that are unusual for you, if you now find yourself now feeling disconnected from the work that you feel called to do, and created to do, if you now find yourself no longer able to carry the cost of carrying in your purpose is because the impact has compounded in the background. And you didn't recognize that it was their friend, hear me when you serve deeply when you serve from the heart, when you serve from a place of high empathy on a regular basis. Please recognize there is a cost and that cost compounds in the background and it can become compassion fatigue You can get to the point where the cost of caring is just too high. So I encourage you today as you serve as you, Minister, as you do what you do recognize the cost of caring. Right? Recognize that as you serve traumatized people, that trauma also impacts you. As you serve people who are struggling, that struggle has an impact on your body, on your mind, on your Spirit on your emotions, and you must count the cost, pause, pause in the work, take a sealer, take a Sabbath day, pause, so that you can take care of you. Don't advise and give resources to people and neglect to offer the same grace to yourself is not selfish. It's wisdom is wisdom. If you're going to continue to serve, you must steward well, your own heart, your own body, your own mind, and your own spirit. And if you fail to steward yourself, the impact that compounds in the background will one day catch up. And you will find yourself not able to serve in the way you're created to serve. So hear my heart friend, hear my heart. Learn from my mistakes. You must acknowledge the impact of compassion, you must acknowledge that there is a cost of caring and you must take steps to take care of yourself so that you can continue to serve as you were created to serve. Now, as always, my friends you know that you are powerful. You are significant. And you listen. Not only you are loved, but you are worthy of love. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of loving yourself. And not only are you worthy but you're responsible for you cannot keep pouring from an empty bucket. You are responsible to steward your own mind, your own spirit, your own body. You are responsible for stewarding your own emotions. Love you. Love you so you can love everybody else. All right. So all I got for you this week. I pray that this blesses you that it calls your attention and that you'll do something about it. Alright. Until next week. I'll see you soon. Bye.